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Book Review: Nova by Samuel R. Delany (Bottom of the TBR Pile Challenge)

January 18, 2012 6 comments

Spaceship above a red planet.Summary:
Lorq von Ray is the head of one of the biggest corporations in the galaxy that for years has worked hand-in-hand with the Red corporation, currently headed by incestuous brother/sister partners Prince and Ruby.  But now internal fighting between the two has made von Ray determined to find his corporation’s own supply of Illyrion, normally supplied by the Reds.  He’s heard rumors you can fly through the center of a nova (an imploding star) and survive and that Illyrion is inside.  He gathers an unlikely crew in a race against the clock to gather the fuel.

Review:
I really wish I could remember what made me acquire this book.  The cover was nothing special, and the summary on the back said approximately diddly-squat about the actual plot (unlike my own).  Supposedly this book took years and tons of research into the Tarot and the Holy Grail, yadda yadda.  Fine.  All I know is that it was boring as fuck with a plot like it was written by a fifth grader.

One of my updates on GoodReads said, “Reading this book is like going to the dentist,” and I still think that’s the most apt review of it.  The plot drags, which is shocking for such a short novel.  We learn an astonishing amount of backstory about the Mouse, who is a minor character, but not a ton about Prince and Ruby Red, who are far more essential to the plot.  We don’t learn the backstory for the plugs everyone wears until the book is almost over, when plugs are key to the story.  A set of black twins work on the ship with one mysteriously albino for no apparent plot reason, and they operate as one person finishing each other’s sentences.  Their whole characterization really bumped my racism button.  Yes, I know this is an old book, but still.  We also have the annoying novelist member of the crew, who is such an obvious Mary Sue it’s painful.  And I don’t throw around the term Mary Sue willy-nilly.  Come on.  The guy is a novelist trying to write a Holy Grail book. *blinks*

The amateurish exposition consists mainly of long speeches by various characters.  The plot saving device of a miracle machine that can fix almost all wounds appears part-way through the story.  The whole thing would get maybe a C from me in a creative writing class. Maybe.

The only thing that keeps this book from one star is that it does, in fact, have a plot and is readable.  Of course, I can’t for the life of me figure out anyone who would want to read this if they knew what they were getting themselves into.

2 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

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